05:17 GMT25 January 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Mexican authorities have said that more than 8,200 asylum-seeking migrants from Central America reached Mexico, with around 7,400 of the migrants staying near the cities of Tijuana and Mexicali just south of California.

    Food conditions for migrants in the Mexican border town of Tijuana are improving and health conditions are likely to get better as camps become more organized, UN Refugee Agency Americas spokesperson Francesca Fontanini told Sputnik.

    "In terms of food, the conditions have really improved," Fontanini said. "The hygienic situation will improve in the next days in the new stop [camp]. In a closed space it’s much more organized. I think the hygienic, physical and health conditions will probably improve."

    There is no case of malnutrition because food is provided to migrants by the federal government, Fontanini said.

    Over the weekend the Albergue Benito Juarez outdoor shelter space in Tijuana was closed and 2,372 migrants were moved to an indoor shelter, she added.

    Moreover, Fontanini said 3,800 migrants have applied for asylum in Mexico ever since the first caravan arrived. Many migrants have also started to look for jobs in Tijuana, she said.

    READ MORE: Local Businesses in Mexico Border Town Say Devastated by Migrant Caravan

    "It’s been almost two weeks, the government opened a national job fair, so we’re offering a job which is very good," Fontanini said. "People can have money and visa, they can work."

    Fontanini further explained that migrants waiting for their asylum claims to process in Mexico can wait in a public shelter and work which is good for the economy and their self-esteem.

    Fontanini noted that overall, not just including migrants in Tijuana, about 7,000 Honduran migrants and 450 El Salvadoran migrants have returned to their countries.

    Last week, a group of around 500 of the migrants attempted to storm the border but were thwarted by US authorities with tear gas and rubber bullets. Local residents in Tijuana have also clashed with the caravan, accusing the group of disrupting their community and local businesses.

    The White House in a statement said the use of tear gas was appropriate and in line with standard law enforcement practices. During the final five years of President Barack Obama’s term (2012-2016), border agents used tear gas in 79 incidents, an average of almost 16 per year, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics quoted by the Austin, Texas-based Statesman newspaper.

    WATCH: Migrants Storm US-Mexico Border, Rubber Bullets Fired by Border Control

    The migrants are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries with hopes of being able to seek asylum in the United States. US authorities have said that around 600 of the migrant caravan have criminal records.


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    migrant caravan, conditions, camp, UN Refugee Agency Americas, Francesca Fontanini, Tijuana, Mexico, US
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